Those outside of foster care may not realize that most foster children move from place to place with all of their belongings in trash bags. Why is this a problem?
Unfortunately, it seems like the unofficial luggage of the foster child is a trash bag. Foster children are known to enter foster homes with either the clothes on their backs or a trash bag or two full of items.
This sends a powerful, unspoken message to foster children, "You are trash and everything you own is trash." Imagine how this impacts a child and his self esteem.
While leading an online class, I met a foster mom who also happens to own a second-hand shop. She said that she spends her days with trash bags full of items that no one wants anymore. Then the thought hit her, "is this how we want the kids we care about to feel?"
I learned from another foster parent a neat idea to help children move with dignity. This foster family does this for each foster child moving on from their home, whether it's a planned move home or a disruption.
A Simple Solution: Decorate a Plastic Tote for a Foster Child
- Buy a large plastic tote in the child's favorite color. If the child has several items, buy more than one tote.
- Have the child personalize the totes. Consider:
- colorful duct tape
- label with the child's name and/or information as to what the tote contains
- Another neat idea from the Guide to Family Craft - paint one side of the box or the lid in chalkboard paint. Of course, she was talking about a lunch box sized project - I don't see why it wouldn't work out great for a larger tote and be a fun addition to the child's room.
These totes can then be used after the move in the child's room. They could be neat for additional storage for toys, out of season clothing, or dolls. The totes are also there when needed for another move.
Say no to trash bags and don't treat a child's items like trash. Help move a foster child with a bit of dignity. Consider this neat idea the next time you need to help your foster child move.